The New Fiesta in Chiang Mai

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Gadgets Magazine was part of the 23-man Philippine contingent that attended Ford’s International Media Drive for the new Fiesta held in Chiang Mai, Thailand.  Led by Ford Group Philippines’ Managing Director Kay Hart, AVP for Communications Joseph Anthony Ayllon, and Communications Manager Isa Suarez, we had the chance to try out Ford’s newest baby that’s rocking their award-winning engine, while taking in the sights of the beautiful Kingdom of Thailand.

The Fiesta is Ford’s second best-selling vehicle globally, and it is no wonder the company is investing heavily on its B-segment offerings. This latest iteration has undergone a facelift, and now features the trapezoidal front grille that is the signature of Ford’s new global family of vehicles. The same grill is bracketed by laser-cut headlamps that sweep off the front to create a dynamic, sophisticated look. Other new elements are the power-dome hood design, front bumper fascia, grill inserts, fog lamps, bolder taillights and the inlaid Ford badge, which was a classy touch.

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Inside, the Fiesta exudes a premium feel. The leather steering wheel with the audio controls feels nice to the touch, and the knobs and buttons on the dash are within the drivers reach. The high-gloss finish of the upper instrument panel that flows to the lower center console is replicated in door panels, and Ford’s signature Ice Blue lighting illuminates the dials, switches and displays.

Technology that was once only available in Ford’s more expensive executions is now in the new Fiesta. Ford SYNC enables drivers to answer phone calls and select music from devices connected via Bluetooth or USB, and listen to text messages by simply using voice commands. The system enables drivers to stay connected while keeping their hands on the wheel and eyes on the road at all times.

The system can remember twelve paired devices, and can connect concurrently to any two Bluetooth devices at any given time, as long as one is connected as a Hands Free device, and the other via USB. This is convenient when you want to listen to the music on your iPod, but still connect your phone. Since it was introduced, sync has been included in 7 million new vehicles sold by Ford worldwide, with another 9 million predicted in the coming years.

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Other features that have trickled down to the new Fiesta are Smart Keyless Entry and the Ford Power Start button and go.

The top spec new Ford Fiesta will be powered by the patented 1.0-litre, 3-cylynder EcoBoost engine, that combines direct fuel injection, turbocharging and variable valve timing to produce 125 PS of power and 170 Nm of peak torque, rivalling the power and performance of a traditional 1.6-litre petrol engine. For the ASEAN market, it is mated to Ford’s six-speed PowerShift automatic transmission.  This combination produces excellent fuel economy of 18.9 km/L and carbon dioxide emissions of just 121 g/km.

The new Ford Fiesta is also available with the global 1.5-litre Ti-VCT four-cylinder petrol engine that is paired with either the PowerShift six-speed automatic or the five-speed manual transmission. When paired with either gearbox, the Ford Fiesta returns identical fuel economy and carbon dioxide emissions figures – 17.2 km/L and 137 g/km.

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Aside from the high quality steel that is used for the Fiesta’s frame, other safety features include airbags for the driver and front passenger, as well as Ford’s Intelligent Restraints System that minimizes injuries caused by seatbelts during collisions based on the passenger’s size.  Electronic Stability Program (ESP) and Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS) also come with.

To test the new Fiesta for ourselves, we were tasked with a drive composed of five legs that took us around Chiang Mai and covered some 236 kilometers of highways, city and mountain roads.

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Our first destination was the Proud Phu Fah Resort located 1,150 meters above sea level, in Chiang Mai’s Mae Rim district. Despite the twisty and steep curves en route, the Fiesta displayed agility you wouldn’t expect from such a tiny engine. Shifting was smooth, with little cabin noise. Over snacks and coffee, we were given the lowdown about the two-time International Engine of the Year awardee, and the Ford reps tried their best to answer all our questions.

Before long, it was time to head out, and the beautiful Veranda: The High Resort was next on our list. The delicious lunch in the serene resort was a welcome respite from the tight winding roads we drove to get there. From there, we drove another 84 kilometers of what seemed like an endless highway to reach our last destination that was the Thai Elephant Conservation Center. The Fiesta’s stability was well pronounced as we sped through the highways. Handling was superb, even at our high speeds.

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Ford has really upped the ante in the B-segment with the class leading features and award winning engine in the new Fiesta. We just hope the dealers have enough stock to cope with the demand that’s inevitable once this baby is out.

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Originally Published in Gadgets Magazine’s December 2013 – January 2014 Issue. Photos by the author and Ford Press.